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Meta offering Facebook desktop version in Inuktitut

By Megan DeLaire, CTVNews.ca Writer

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    Toronto, Canada (CTV Network) — Facebook users can now use the desktop version of the social media platform in the Inuit language Inuktitut, Meta has announced.

Meta launched the new official language setting, now available globally, through a partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization representing Nunavut’s 33,000 Inuit and their rights under the Nunavut Agreement.

According to Meta, the launch aligns with the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which designates this decade as a time to acknowledge the loss of many Indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote them.

“Inuit expect to see and hear Inuktut in all aspects of our lives. Recognizing Inuktitut as an official language on Facebook, equal to English and French, reinforces the legitimacy of our language,” said Aluki Kotierk, president or Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., in a press release on Friday.

“Being able to access Facebook in our own language is an important and concrete step towards seeing and hearing Inuktut in all aspects of our lives.”

According to Statistics Canada, Inuktitut is the most common of the four Inuit languages spoken by people across the Inuit Nunangat, the Indigenous peoples’ homeland in Canada spanning four provinces and territories. More than 39,475 Inuit across Canada speak the language.

In order to translate the platform accurately, Meta worked with the Pirurvik Centre, a translation and learning centre based in Iqaluit.

Staff at the centre translated 2,000 strings of language on Facebook into Inuktitut, representing approximately 4,500 words. They also helped create new concepts for the Facebook interface in cases where no Inuktitut equivalents existed. For example, “Facebook page” has become “Facebook makpigaq” in Inuktitut.

“Pirurvik is honoured to have worked with Meta and [Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.] to ensure the new words created in Inuktitut reflect the nuances of our language and culture,” said Leena Evic, the centre’s executive director, in the release.

“The Facebook interface in Inuktitut will be a daily educational tool for younger generations to learn Inuktitut and a communication tool for Inuktitut-speaking Inuit.”

Inuktitut joins a growing number of Indigenous languages on Facebook. In 2018, the social media network launched language settings for Inupiaq, a dialect of the Inuit language family spoken in northern Alaska and the Northwest Territories.

Learn how to change the language settings on your desktop by following the steps outlined on the Facebook website.

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